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Acer saccharum - Tilia americana / Staphylea trifolia / Dryopteris marginalis - (Impatiens pallida) Forest
Translated Name: Sugar Maple - American Basswood / American Bladdernut / Marginal Woodfern - (Pale Touch-me-not) Forest
Common Name: Central Appalachian-Piedmont Rich Boulderfield Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL006471
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This association occurs in the Central Appalachians of Pennsylvania, Maryland, northern Virginia, and probably northeastern West Virginia, extending eastward locally in the Piedmont. It is associated with steep, usually stream- or river-fronting slopes covered by rocky colluvium weathered from various calcium-bearing sedimentary, metasedimentary, and igneous bedrock, including the Sykesville metasedimentary melange, hornblende tonalite, metapyroxenite, metabasalt, mica schists, phyllite, calcareous shale, limestone, and dolomite. Substrates vary from stable, large-block boulderfields to fine talus and unstable, loose scree. Surface substrate in 16 plots averaged 15% bedrock cover and 42% cover of boulders and large rocks. North and east aspects prevail among these plots. Colluvial soils are strongly calcareous and frequently restricted to interstices among rocks but may form deeper deposits where microtopography permits. Vegetation is a rich mesophytic forest with the overstory consisting largely of Tilia americana (mostly var. americana but occasionally var. heterophylla), Fraxinus americana, and Acer saccharum. Acer nigrum is also codominant in a few localities. Minor overstory associates include Carya cordiformis, Ulmus rubra, Celtis occidentalis, Quercus rubra, Liriodendron tulipifera, Quercus prinus, and Quercus muehlenbergii. Because of frequent blowdowns and canopy gaps induced by the continuous, often unstable substrates, stands tend to be somewhat open to very open. Staphylea trifolia is constant and abundant in the shrub layer. Other characteristic small trees, shrubs, and vines that may achieve high cover are Asimina triloba, Ostrya virginiana, Toxicodendron radicans, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, and Hydrangea arborescens. Density of herbs varies seasonally, as well as with rock cover and available microhabitats. Spring ephemerals, especially Cardamine concatenata and Dicentra canadensis, are fairly common in most stands, while dense colonies of Impatiens pallida overwhelmingly dominate the late-season aspect of some stands. Other herbs that occurred in half or more of plot samples are, in descending order of constancy, Dryopteris marginalis, Eurybia divaricata (= Aster divaricatus), Arisaema triphyllum, Asarum canadense, Polystichum acrostichoides, Solidago flexicaulis, Maianthemum racemosum ssp. racemosum, Hydrophyllum virginianum, and Actaea racemosa (= Cimicifuga racemosa). Less constant herbs that may be important locally include Arabis laevigata, Cystopteris bulbifera, Pilea pumila, Polymnia canadensis, Sanguinaria canadensis, Symphyotrichum cordifolium (= Aster cordifolius), and Thalictrum dioicum.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: The classification is supported by analysis of data from 16 plots during the National Capital Region Parks project.

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 1 - Forest & Woodland
Subclass 1.B - Temperate & Boreal Forest & Woodland
Formation 1.B.2 - Cool Temperate Forest & Woodland
Division 1.B.2.Na - Eastern North American Forest & Woodland
Macrogroup Appalachian-Interior-Northeastern Mesic Forest
Group Appalachian-Allegheny Northern Hardwood - Conifer Forest
Alliance Sugar Maple - American Basswood - Northern Red Oak Rocky Forest

This is the revised vegetation hierarchy. For more information see Classification Sources and usnvc.org.

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL006472 Tilia americana var. heterophylla - Aesculus flava - Acer saccharum / Cystopteris bulbifera - Asarum canadense Forest
CEGL008412 Acer saccharum - Tilia americana / Asimina triloba / Jeffersonia diphylla - Caulophyllum thalictroides Forest



Related Concepts from Other Classifications

Related Subnational Community Units
These data are subject to substantial ongoing revision and may be out of date for some states.
In the U.S., contact the state Heritage Program for the most complete and up-to-date information at: http://www.natureserve.org/natureserve-network.
Information from programs in other jurisdictions will be posted when they are made available.
Subnation Concept Name Relationship to Standard Confidence Reference
Pennsylvania Sugar Maple - Basswood Forest Broader   Fike 1999


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Acer (nigrum, saccharum) - Tilia americana / Staphylea trifolia / Thalictrum dioicum Forest
Relationship: F - Finer
Reference: Lea, C. 2003. Vegetation types in the National Capital Region Parks. Draft for review by NatureServe, Virginia Natural Heritage, West Virginia Natural Heritage, Maryland Natural Heritage, and National Park Service. March 2003. 140 pp.
Related Concept Name: Boulderfield Forest and Woodland
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Harrison, J. W., compiler. 2004. Classification of vegetation communities of Maryland: First iteration. A subset of the International Classification of Ecological Communities: Terrestrial Vegetation of the United States, NatureServe. Maryland Natural Heritage Program, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis. 243 pp.
Related Concept Name: Low-Elevation Boulderfield Forest / Woodland
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Fleming, G. P., P. P. Coulling, D. P. Walton, K. M. McCoy, and M. R. Parrish. 2001. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. First approximation. Natural Heritage Technical Report 01-1. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. 76 pp.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES202.603 North-Central Appalachian Circumneutral Cliff and Talus


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G3G4 (29Sep2006)
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: This community is somewhat geographically restricted and often occurs in small patches (varying to large patch in carbonate rock districts). However, it occurs in rugged habitats that are less prone to anthropogenic disturbances than many other habitats.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: MD, PA, VA, WVpotentially occurs
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This association is found in the Central Appalachians of Pennsylvania, Maryland, northern Virginia, and probably northeastern West Virginia, extending eastward locally on river bluffs of the Piedmont.

Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: Vegetation of this type is a rich mesophytic forest with the overstory consisting largely of Tilia americana (mostly var. americana but occasionally var. heterophylla), Fraxinus americana, and Acer saccharum. Acer nigrum is also codominant in a few localities. Minor overstory associates include Carya cordiformis, Ulmus rubra, Celtis occidentalis, Quercus rubra, Liriodendron tulipifera, Quercus prinus, and Quercus muehlenbergii. Because of frequent blowdowns and canopy gaps induced by the continuous, often unstable substrates, stands tend to be somewhat open to very open. Staphylea trifolia is constant and abundant in the shrub layer. Other characteristic small trees, shrubs, and vines that may achieve high cover are Asimina triloba, Ostrya virginiana, Toxicodendron radicans, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, and Hydrangea arborescens. Density of herbs varies seasonally, as well as with rock cover and available microhabitats. Spring ephemerals, especially Cardamine concatenata and Dicentra canadensis, are fairly common in most stands, while dense colonies of Impatiens pallida overwhelmingly dominate the late-season aspect of some stands. Other herbs that occurred in half or more of plot samples are, in descending order of constancy, Dryopteris marginalis, Eurybia divaricata (= Aster divaricatus), Arisaema triphyllum, Asarum canadense, Polystichum acrostichoides, Solidago flexicaulis, Maianthemum racemosum ssp. racemosum, Hydrophyllum virginianum, and Actaea racemosa (= Cimicifuga racemosa). Less constant herbs that may be important more locally include Arabis laevigata, Cystopteris bulbifera, Pilea pumila, Polymnia canadensis, Sanguinaria canadensis, Symphyotrichum cordifolium (= Aster cordifolius), and Thalictrum dioicum. Many additional species occur at low constancy and cover. Mean species richness of 16 plot samples was 42 taxa per 400 square meters. Despite the very rocky substrate, the exotic weed Alliaria petiolata is capable of becoming established or even rampant in this community. This species was present in 94% of plot samples, occasionally achieving 5 to 10% cover. Several other exotics were present at low cover and constancy.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Acer saccharum G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Fraxinus americana G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Tilia americana G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Staphylea trifolia G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling  
 
 
Alliaria petiolata G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Scutellaria saxatilis G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Dryopteris marginalis G3 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)  
 
 


At-Risk Species Reported for this Association
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Scutellaria saxatilis
  (Rock Skullcap)
G3  


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: This community is associated with steep, usually stream- or river-fronting slopes covered by rocky colluvium weathered from various calcium-bearing sedimentary, metasedimentary, and igneous bedrock. Substrates vary from stable, large-block boulderfields to fine talus and unstable, loose scree. Habitats developed on the Sykesville metasedimentary melange, hornblende tonalite, metapyroxenite, and metabasalt tend to have more stable boulder deposits, while habitats formed by weathering of mica schists, phyllite, calcareous shale, limestone, and dolomite tend to have finer and looser debris. The habitats usually include sections of outcrops that are often extensive above the talus deposits. Surface substrate in 16 plots averaged 15% bedrock cover and 42% cover of boulders and large rocks. North and east aspects prevail among these plots. Soils are colluvial and frequently restricted to interstices among rocks but may form deeper deposits where microtopography permits. Samples extracted from plots varied from strongly acidic to circumneutral but had consistently high to very high calcium levels, high magnesium, and moderately low iron and aluminum.


Dynamic Processes


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): G.P. Fleming
Element Description Edition Date: 29Sep2006
Element Description Author(s): G.P. Fleming
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 29Sep2006
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): G.P. Fleming

Ecological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).


References
  • Eastern Ecology Working Group of NatureServe. No date. International Ecological Classification Standard: International Vegetation Classification. Terrestrial Vegetation. NatureServe, Boston, MA.

  • Fike, J. 1999. Terrestrial and palustrine plant communities of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory. Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Recreation, Bureau of Forestry, Harrisburg, PA. 86 pp.

  • Fleming, G. P. 1999. Plant communities of limestone, dolomite, and other calcareous substrates in the George Washington and Jefferson national forests, Virginia. Natural Heritage Technical Report 99-4. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. Unpublished report submitted to the USDA Forest Service. 218 pp. plus appendices.

  • Fleming, G. P. 2007. Ecological communities of the Potomac Gorge in Virginia: Composition, floristics, and environmental dynamics. Natural Heritage Technical Report 07-12. Unpublished report submitted to the National Park Service. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 341 pp. plus appendices.

  • Fleming, G. P., P. P. Coulling, D. P. Walton, K. M. McCoy, and M. R. Parrish. 2001. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. First approximation. Natural Heritage Technical Report 01-1. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. 76 pp.

  • Fleming, G. P., and K. D. Patterson. 2011a. Natural communities of Virginia: Ecological groups and community types. Natural Heritage Technical Report 11-07. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 34 pp.

  • Fleming, G. P., and K. Taverna. 2006. Vegetation classification for the National Capitol Region parks, western region. Regional (VA-WVA-MD-DC) analysis prepared for NatureServe and USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program, March 2006. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond.

  • Fleming, G. P., and P. P. Coulling. 2001. Ecological communities of the George Washington and Jefferson national forests, Virginia. Preliminary classification and description of vegetation types. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. 317 pp.

  • Fleming, G. P., and W. H. Moorhead, III. 2000. Plant communities and ecological land units of the Peter's Mountain area, James River Ranger District, George Washington and Jefferson national forests, Virginia. Natural Heritage Technical Report 00-07. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. Unpublished report submitted to the USDA Forest Service. 195 pp. plus appendices.

  • Harrison, J. W., compiler. 2004. Classification of vegetation communities of Maryland: First iteration. A subset of the International Classification of Ecological Communities: Terrestrial Vegetation of the United States, NatureServe. Maryland Natural Heritage Program, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis. 243 pp.

  • Lea, C. 2003. Vegetation types in the National Capital Region Parks. Draft for review by NatureServe, Virginia Natural Heritage, West Virginia Natural Heritage, Maryland Natural Heritage, and National Park Service. March 2003. 140 pp.

  • Southeastern Ecology Working Group of NatureServe. No date. International Ecological Classification Standard: International Vegetation Classification. Terrestrial Vegetation. NatureServe, Durham, NC.

  • Southworth, S., and D. Denenny. 2006. Geologic map of the national parks in the National Capital Region, Washington, D.C., Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2005-1331. [http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2005/1331/]


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